6 December 2017

Further closing statements by victims’ counsel, inter alia on Andreas Temme

Today the court first heard the closing statements of counsel to the Yozgat family and of Halit Yozgat’s parents, who addressed the court in person.

Counsel Alexander Kienzle dealt in detail with the role of Hessian secret service officer Andreas Temme, who was present in the internet shop when Halit Yozgat was killed, and who claims to have neither heard anything nor noticed Yozgat’s dead body. Kienzle noted that Temme had been tasked with investigating the series of murders then called “kebab killings” a few weeks prior to the murder. He also presented all the ways in which the secret service had tried to block the murder investigation, attempts justified by reference to a need to “safeguard sources”, a need which was paramount and trumped a “mere murder investigation”. 

Kienzle considered these attempts in the context of earlier acts by secret service agencies in 1998, when a clear opportunity to find out the whereabouts of the NSU core members had been purposely ignored, again based on a claimed need to “safeguard sources”.

Alexander Kienzle also criticized the federal prosecution and the court: the prosecution had protected witnesses who told bold-faced lies or feigned memory losses, had tried to deceive the public by claiming there was no evidence of any state collusion. It had also cooperated in “continuing the cover-up” perpetrated by secret service after 2011 – inter alia by participating in a meeting with secret service agencies concerning the role of informer Carsten Szczepanski. Kienzle referred to the trust the Yozgat family had placed in the court, trust which had been broken when the court considered its fact-finding mission much too narrowly and failed to consider a large number of important questions. Above all, he criticized the court for having issued a “certificate of believability” for Temme, a decision stating that it saw no reason to question the veracity of his statement – which had surprised all those who had witness Temme’s unbelievable lies and antics in court. The court had thus followed its role as a „State Security Court” in the original meaning of these words.

His statement was followed by very moving statements of Ayşe and İsmail Yozgat. Their statements showed once more how much the family members of the murder victims suffer until this day, suffering caused by the murder of their family members, but also by the failure to uncover the facts concerning these crimes.

Ms. Yozgat turned to Beate Zschäpe and asked her:

„Are you able to go to sleep when you put your head on the pillow? I have been unable to fall asleep for these last eleven yours because I miss my son so much. What have you achieved with these deeds? You have simply remained in hiding. Did God even exist in your midst?” 

And addressing the court, she stated:

“You were my last hope and my trust, but I see that you have not achieved any results. You have been busy like bees, but have produced no honey, no results.”

Like his wife, Mr. Yozgat also criticized the court, calling upon it to conduct a site survey in the internet shop in Kassel, which would clearly show that the agent Temme was lying. As long as the court did not conduct such a survey, he would not accept any judgment passed by the court. Besides Temme, Volker Bouffier, first Minister of the Interior and the Prime Minister of Hesse, was also guilty: “I say now that Temme has murdered my son and that Bouffier has covered his crimes.“ Neither did İsmail Yozgat spare the police agencies: “From the very beginning, I have said that xenophobes had killed my son, but nobody believed me.”

The final statements of the day were made by counsel Turan Ünlüçay, Kiriakos Sfatkidis, Isaak Sidiropoulos and Önder Boğazkaya, who represent the parents and siblings of Mehmet Kubaşik. Their clients could not appear in person, but addressed the court in short statements read out by their counsel. All four spoke for only about twenty minutes each, but their statements too were powerful testament to the suffering caused by the NSU murderers, but also statements of criticism directed against police, secret service and federal prosecution:

Ünlüçay, Sfatkidis, Sidiropoulos and Boğazkaya detailed, as had others before them, why the prosecution’s thesis of an isolated cell consisting of three members is wrong, what they thought of the role of the secret service, and they criticized the racist police investigations, which had not even spared their clients, all but one of whom still resided in Turkey. Turan Ünlüçay on these investigations:

„The goal of the NSU was to terrify migrants, to take away their sense of security and to cause them to leave the country, all so that the NSU could realize its racist ideas of a ‘racially pure’ society. However, the murders did not take away migrants’ sense of security. What took away that sense of security, as stated by our colleague Ilius, was the way the victims were treated by law enforcement, by those agencies who are entrusted with people’s live and expected to conduct investigations objectively and to treat victims with respect.” 

With respect to a report by police profilers according to which the taboo against killings “in our cultural space” showed that “the perpetrator must hail from far outside the system of norms and values prevalent here” [i.e., must be a “foreigner”], Ünlüçay commented:

„By now, we know better than that where the perpetrators hailed from. The question is where to place this analysis, an analysis which simply denigrates other cultures. In my view, it would not be misplaced in a radical rightwing newspaper. Such analyses cause migrants to lose all trust in state agencies.”

The four advocates from Stuttgart also directly addressed the accused, above all accused Zschäpe. Commenting on Zschäpe’s in-court statements in which she tried to present herself as a victim of the two Uwes, Kiriakos Sfatkidis stated that Zschäpe had

„not opted for an admission of guilt based on remorse. Instead she opted for a method which she knew well and which had always worked for her, a method pulled from “Lisa Dienelt’s back of tricks” [Lisa Dienelt being the alias Zschäpe had used over many years]: Deceipt, camouflage, deflection, the building of facades. This was the same method the accused Zschäpe had opted for during her time underground.”

Neither did he accept Zschäpe’s „apology“ to the victims:

„Beate Zschäpe claims to have been afraid that the two would kill themselves and that she would thus lose her family, above all Uwe Böhnhardt. How serious can such an apology be taken? ‘Oh, sorry, but I was in love. Better that others be killed than that those two commit suicide.’”

And finally with respect to Zschäpe’s claims as to what had allegedly happened after the two men had told her of the murders – she had claimed that the three had not celebrated Christmas or exchanged gifts and had not celebrated her birthday on 2 January:

So those were the problems facing Beate Zschäpe: no Christmas party, no birthday party, no presents. How can one exchange presents after the cookie jar has been used in the perpetration of a bombing attack? What do you think, Ms. Zschäpe, how many birthday parties the families of the murder victims have thrown after the murders?”

Isaak Sidiropoulos’s summary of the results of the trial was also very negative:

„The justified hopes of my client and her family, fueled by the promises made by the federal chancellor and by her trust in Germany as a state under the rule of law, have been frustrated more and more the longer this trial has gone on.”

Önder Boğazkaya once more considered the racist investigations conducted by the police and delivered the following message from his client, the younger sister of Mehmet Kubaşik, to the majority society in Germany:

„While we have always trusted and respected you, you have never considered us equals, have even called the crimes ‘kebap killings’!”

Turning to the future, he concluded:

“What’s so distressing is that, with almost no exceptions, and even with the benefit of hindsight, none of the investigation leaders, none of the police officers who testified in court have admitted to having made mistakes, let alone apologized to the victim families. This self-satisfied manner cannot bring back the lost trust of the victim families or of society as a whole. The suffering of family members might have at least been ameliorated somewhat if these officers had clearly stated: ‘We have a problem with institutionalized racism, we apologize! We will do everything we can to ensure that this does not happen again!’”

Next week, the court will hear further closing statements from victims’ counsel, inter alia for the family of Süleyman Taşköprü from Hamburg, for the mother of Michèle Kiesewetter and for Kiesewetter’s severely injured colleague, and for victims of the Keupstraße bombing attack. Inter alia, Alexander Hoffmann will conclude his closing statement on the ideology of the NSU and its support networks begun yesterday.